Hardly Art describes its newest La Sera release as “peppy break-up pop with defiance and bitter sweetness.” If you’re lucky enough to be one of those people who has peppy break-ups, maybe that’s a helpful description, but it’s one that initially confuses the situation of Katy Goodman’s new album. These days it’s harder than you might think to pin down a straightforward rock album descriptively, and even harder to pull it off creatively, from the musician’s perspective.
But Goodman hits a nice sweet spot with Sees the Light. It’s the second album from the Brooklyn-based Vivian Girls alumnus, and though she’s stepping out again at the same moment as fellow band member Frankie Rose, Goodman draws her inspiration from a different era for her solo effort. Whereas Rose moved toward synth-laden Eighties melancholy, La Sera sounds a lot more like Vivian Girls — hard-driving guitars, catchy refrains, and Sixties rock ‘n’ roll references. Sees the Light will appeal to fans of several other contemporary acts, among them Grizzly Bear, St. Vincent, and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.
The standout songs are all downtempo and folksy, and might be properly characterized as “slow jams.” “It’s Over Now” and “Love That’s Gone” are sweet, anthemic, and doubtless mixtape fodder. And when she goes garage, Goodman still succeeds heartily. Tunes like “Please Be My Third Eye” and “Break My Heart” prove that she doesn’t need the rest of the Vivian Girls to sweep you away with gritty guitar jaunts. Come to think of it, it’s kind of like peppy break-up pop. (Hardly Art)